MARIE SKLODOWSKA-CURIE (Manya): 156th Anniversary of
“Mother of Modern Physics”

Marie Curie, née Sklodowska

Marie Curie, née Sklodowska
Born: November 7, 1867, [Warsaw, Congress Kingdom of Poland, Russian Empire (now Poland)].
Death: July 4, 1934 [Sallanches, France].
Spouse:  Pierre Curie [Died 1906; Nobel Prize in Physics, 1903].
Daughter: Irène Joliot-Curie [Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1935]

Maria Skłodowska was a Polish-born French physicist, the youngest child of her parents. She was born in Warsaw, brought up in a poor but well-educated family. She studied mathematics and physics. Being a woman, she was unable to enroll in a Polish University 

five Sklodowski children. Zosia, Hela, Marie curie, Jozef, Bronya during their childhood

The five Sklodowski children. From left to right: Zosia died of typhus; Hela became an educator; Maria, twice a Nobel laureate; and Jozef and Bronya, physicians. (photo ACJC)

Curie worked (roughly five years) as a tutor and a governess, continued self-study in her spare time, reading about physics, chemistry and math.

Sorbonne University of Paris, 1891: she was enrolled in the Sorbonne University of Paris.

Master’s Degree in Physics 1893 (licence of physical sciences)

Master’s Degree in Mathematics 1894 (licence of mathematical sciences )

Meeting with Pierre Curie: Marie met Pierre Curie, a young professor and laboratory chief at the Municipal School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry in Paris. The meeting between Pierre Curie and Marie changed not only their individual lives but also the course of science. They worked together.

Photo of Pierre Curie and Marie Curie, taken around their marriage in 1895Marriage to Pierre Curie (Photo Credit, ACJC)

Marriage to Pierre Curie, 1895: Marie and Pierre Curie married (in 1895). Marie became a physics teacher at a girls’ school and she and her husband carried out their research at night.

Discovery of Radioactivity by Prof. Henri Becquerel 1896
In 1896 Prof. Henri Becquerel discovered radioactivity, which inspired both Marie and Pierre Curie to deeply investigate radioactivity. In this pursuit several substances and minerals were investigated. They found that the mineral pitchblende (a uranium ore, a natural radioactive mineral with Uraninite) was more radioactive than uranium (alone).

Discovery of Polonium and Radium:

In 1898, they concluded the presence of other radioactive substances. They discovered polonium (named after her native Poland) and radium (Latin word for ray), having more radioactivity than uranium.

Radium Isolation April 20, 1902: Curie team successfully isolated radioactive radium salts from the mineral pitchblende in their laboratory in Paris. 


device for precise electrical measurement, basics for Marie's work on radioactivityThis device for precise electrical measurement, invented by Pierre Curie and his brother Jacques, was essential for Marie’s work. (Photo ACJC)

Doctorate Degree Thesis of Marie Sklodowska Curie, 1903, ParisDoctorate Degree, 1903: Marie received doctorate degree from the University of Paris


First Nobel Prize [in Physics: 1903 (1/4 share)]: “in recognition of the extraordinary services they have rendered by their joint researches on the radiation phenomena discovered by Professor Henri Becquerel”.

Nobel Prize Awardees in Physics 1903, Antoine Henri Becquerel, Pierre Curie, Marie Curie, nee Sklodowska

 Source: Nobel Prize Foundation website

Nobel Prize Certificate, Pierre Curie and Marie Curie Source: Wikipedia

Death of Pierre Curie, 1906: Pierre Curie died in a tragic accident, but Marie but continued to work on radioactivity

Head of the Physics Laboratory, 1906: Marie became the first woman as Professor at the Sorbonne, and became Head of the Physics Laboratory (1906-1934)

Research Institute: She founded her own research institute in 1909 and her determination and remarkable endeavors led to a second Nobel Prize in 1911, this time in Chemistry for creating a means of measuring radioactivity.  She became the first person ever to be awarded two Nobel Prizes.

Second Nobel Prize [in Chemistry: 1911] (complete share): “in recognition of her services to the advancement of chemistry by the discovery of the elements radium and polonium, by the isolation of radium and the study of the nature and compounds of this remarkable element”

Marie Curie, Nobel Prize Awardee in Chemistry, 1911


Marie Curie, Nobel Prize in Chemistry, 1911  Source: Nobel Prize Foundation website

During the First World War, Marie directed the Red Cross Radiology Service, developing mobile x-ray units, and establishing some 200 radiological units at field hospitals. 

Aplastic anemia & Death, 1934: Marie died in France in 1934 from aplastic anemia believed to have been contracted from her long-term exposure to radiation.


Experimental notebook of Marie Curie

Level of radiation in her belongings: Due to high levels of radiation, her research and other personal papers are still considered too dangerous to handle and are kept in lead-lined containers; those who wish to consult them must wear protective clothing. Curie’s manuscripts are contaminated with radium 226, which has a half life of about 1,600 years.

Graves of Marie Curie and Pierre Curie in Panthéon, Paris

The graves of Marie and Pierre Curie (Panthéon, Paris). Source: 

Her body is also radioactive and was therefore placed in a coffin with a lead lining (nearly an inch).


Marie Skłodowska-Curie broke down numerous barriers in science. She redefined women’s role in society and science.  


Other Notable Awards

  • Davy Medal (1903)
  • Matteucci Medal (1904)
  • Actonian Prize (1907)
  • Elliott Cresson Medal (1909)
  • Albert Medal (1910)
  • Willard Gibbs Award (1921)
  • Cameron Prize for Therapeutics of the University of Edinburgh (1931)


Family Tree of Marie Currie, Irene Curie


Daughter Irene Curie: Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1935

Frederic Joliot and Irene Joliot-Curie, winners of 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Source: Nobel Prize Foundation website

Marie Curie with her daughter, Irene Curie, working in Laboratory

Marie with her daughter, Irene Curie, working in the laboratory.



  1. “Marie Curie – Facts”. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Mon. 7 Nov 2022.
  2. “The Nobel Prize in Physics 1903”. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Mon. 7 Nov 2022.
  4. “Irène Joliot-Curie – Facts”. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2022. Mon. 7 Nov 2022.
  6. Micault, N. P., 2013: The Curie’s Lab and its Women (1906–1934) Le laboratoire Curie et ses Femmes (1906–1934). Annals of Science 70, 71-100.


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